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The Fantastic Four of Sales

I've been doing a little bit of research on past sales pioneers as I am interested to see what strategies they employed to reach Superhero status in the Sales Universe.

Below I have listed just 4 individuals who I thought stuck out from the rest, this doesn't mean they are the greatest but they certainly are fantastic.

Joe Girrard 1928 - Still going strong

Okay so little old Joe may not be a household name but Google histories best sales people and this man pops up more than a paranoid Meerkat.

Joe was a car dealer salesman with impressive stats of shifting over 13,000 Chevys over 14 years, his best month was 174, that’s 174 cars in just one month!

He actually puts his sales epiphany down to attending a Catholic funeral that had over 250 guests. He thought if this one man can have 250 people attend his funeral then a person has the ability to influence 250 people. So his whole sales strategy was to treat each customer as an influencer to harness the power of referrals.

Favourite strategy – Referral selling

Mary Kay Ash 1918 - 2001

Mary founded one the largest cosmetic empires the world has ever seen. Mary Kay Cosmetics.

She began working for Stanley home products and consistently smashed her targets by thinking outside of the box, she would look to host house parties to sell household items amazingly she was the first to try this.

But in a male dominated era of the swinging 60’s she was constantly overlooked and had to watch a male employee who she trained get promoted over her and with it having twice the salary. Mary then thought f**k this and with a small loan from her son she began what is now one of the largest cosmetic brands that the world has ever seen. She actually turned over one million in her first year, I mean Wow!

She was a huge advocate for womens rights in the workplace and would even buy her top sales reps a pink Cadillac, I really love that bit.

For her selling method she envisaged everyone having a sign around their neck with the words ‘make me feel important.’

Favourite strategy – Making the customer King, ah sorry ‘Queen.’

Josephine Esther Mentzer - AKA Estee Lauder 1908 - 2004

Estee co-founded the company with her husband Joseph Lauter and was the only woman to feature on Time magazines 1998 list of the 20 most influential business geniuses of the 20th century.

It was her Uncle Dr John Schotz who opened the door for her to the world of cosmetic sales. His business New Way Laboraties sold beauty products such as creams, lotions and fragrances but it was Estee who turned his creations into a global business.

Her approach was very innovative at the time and now you see pretty much every cosmetic company follow suit these days. She would offer potential customers free samples before buying. This is now a proven method in sales psychology called ‘Reciprocity.’ The principle of reciprocity in sales psychology means that when someone gives us something, we feel compelled to give something back in return.

Favourite strategy – Try before you buy

John H Patterson 1844 - 1922

John is widely known as the father of sales. He put together the ‘Patterson’ method which was one of the first to introduce a sales script complete with objection handling. He sliced the sales process into a four steps Approach, Proposition, Demonstration and Close. He set up the first known sales school and lived by the phrase “We cannot afford to have one dissatisfied customer.”

He could though be kind of a dick, firing his staff for reasons such as not riding their horse properly. He actually sacked Thomas Watson Sr who went on to become the president of a little known company called IBM.

Favourite strategy – Harnessing the power of the sales script.

Each of the top four found success by using what are now well researched sales techniques. This shows you that there are many different sales strategies that you can look to test and eventually mold into a winning a strategy, so if something isn't working then start thinking outside the box.

I hope in the future to set up a few sales related seminars, meetups and maybe even a conference that will focus on few things such as Sales Psychology, how technology can help you improve, conversation structuring and motivation. If this might interest you in the future then please follow 'The Sales Room' on LinkedIn for updates.

It would be great to hear who inspires you in the sales universe?

Happy hunting everyone!

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